Most businesses are aware of the importance of keywords embedded in website text when it comes to driving their site up the search rankings. However many businesses are missing an opportunity when it comes to including keywords in review forms and invitations to review.
In this guide, we look at what Google says about reviews, then go through the steps you need to follow to set up an effective review template. There’s a Quick Start guide at the end to remind you of what you need to do.
Google says reviews matter – here’s why:
If a customer searches Google for “pasta restaurants in Brighton”, the first item on the page is the Google local listing box. This has a map, with various business locations marked on it, and three businesses listed below the map. These are the three businesses with the highest rankings on the local searches. Clearly it’s extremely advantageous to be in those three.
Many businesses don’t realise that review comments contribute to these rankings, although Google itself is quite open and clear in stating that they do. On its Support pages it has a number of recommendations for making sure that your business is prominently featured.
How to manage your reviews – the official Google tipsheet
Google gives some useful clues on managing and responding to reviews. As far as Google is concerned, allowing customers to give feedback is important and so is responding to them when they do. Many businesses will answer a critical review but leave a good one to speak for itself. However, it’s clear the interaction is important so consider thanking reviewers – not necessarily every time – but if it’s an exceptionally positive review or you have something more to communicate.
Google goes on to say that positive, high quality reviews will increase the visibility of your business – and that’s what everyone wants. The search engine recommends doing it in exactly the way that the ReviewMiner platform works, that’s to say a clickable link that allows users to leave reviews.
How to write reviews – and why this matters
Google also tells its local review guides how to write reviews. If a business owner understands what makes a great review from Google’s viewpoint, they’ll know what they’re aiming for in reviews of their own business.
The difference can be staggering. Some recent research found that the three results sitting immediately below the map when someone does a local search, have on average nearly five times as many reviews as listings 4, 5 and 6. And don’t forget that to see listings 4-6, users have to click on “More Places”, which hardly any of them do.
So getting as many reviews online as you possibly can, is half the battle. Don’t forget that reviews beget reviews. And that because a lot of businesses have no reviews, even ten or twelve can make a difference. The other half of the battle is to make sure that your review form is working hard to increase the visibility of your business.
How to develop a review form that gets results
In simple terms, what drives your business up the rankings is the number of reviews that contain the keywords that would identify your business in a Google search. Let’s look at how to increase the use of those keywords with a customer satisfaction survey, or simple online review form.
1. Offer prompts to help reviewers
If you want people to write detailed reviews, it’s good to offer them some guidelines. The secret lies in encouraging your customers to write more if possible, and to mention the keywords in their review. There’s no harm in helping your customers to frame their thoughts. So – if yours is a locally based business, such as a plumbing and heating service, you want to get them to mention the location.
2. Encourage the reviewers to use the keywords
This means that you mustn’t ask closed questions. If you say, “Did you phone our Brighton branch?” the customer is going to say “Yes” on the form. But if you say “Could you tell us which branch helped you today?” the customer will say “Brighton” or “Thirsk” or whatever the answer is. That’s how you get the location keyword in the review.
Similarly, you can say, “Was it a plumbing emergency or a boiler maintenance job that we helped with today?” and if the reviewer then adds “plumbing emergency” to their review, you are beginning to build a richer base of keywords in the review – one that Google will count towards your ranking.
This whole process is much easier using an online review tool – Review Miner for example, allows you to write the questions on a template form, inserts the link that will open the form for the customer, and afterwards manages the responses. Saves a lot of time and is flexible enough to cope with changes in the business.
3. Keep the questions on how you did – they matter
Obviously, you want the review to be a real one, so you must keep the performance questions. However, you may want to tweak them slightly so that you prompt for any information that is helpful – how quick was our response? What was the quality level of our work? Is there anything about what we did for you that you particularly value? How do we compare to similar services in Brighton?
4. Let them choose how much to write
Tell the customer how much you’d value a review, and that the more they can say the more helpful it is to you and to other customers. But let them know if they’re short of time, a quick note is also appreciated.
Quick Start Guide to Reviews that Work
1. Ask for them. If you use a tool like Review Miner, you can include a link on your site or social media page that will open the review form directly.
2. Use a template that allows you to insert prompts that will encourage the reviewer to use keywords that describe your location, products or services. Don’t use closed questions that require yes/no responses.
3. Add a link to your site, that will open the review template form.
4. On the form, ask how you did – but still keep the questions open.
5. Make it clear the customer isn’t expected to write an essay if they’re short of time, and that you appreciate any review.
6. Use a review management tool to develop the questions, insert the link to the review form in various contexts, and manage the responses.
Using your review forms to elicit responses framed in a helpful way is just business common sense. Small businesses in particular, often want to level the playing field between themselves and bigger enterprises. Being canny about details like this can make all the difference.